December 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India
Punjab elections on Feb 13
New Delhi, December 26
Besides, the Election Commission will also hold bye-elections to six vacant Lok Sabha constituencies and six vacant Assembly constituencies, including Yamunanagar constituency in Haryana.
There will be a single-day poll for 117-member Punjab Assembly on February 13 and for newly formed Uttaranchal 70-member Assembly on February 14, 2002.
While there will be three phased polls in Uttar Pradesh — on February 14, February 18 and February 21, 2002 — there will be two-day poll in Manipur for 60-member Assembly on February 14 and February 21, 2002, the Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh announced.
The details of the constituencies going to polls on different days in Manipur and Uttar Pradesh States will be given in notifications to be issued by the Governors under Section 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 on January 16, 2002, Mr Lyngdoh said.
The CEC made it clear that the Model Code of Conduct comes into immediate effect and will apply to Punjab, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and the whole of the district in which the whole part of any Assembly constituency or Parliamentary Constituency is going for bye-election. The code would be applicable to all political parties and the state and Union Government, the CEC said.
The Election Commission will hold on February 21, 2002 bye-elections to six Lok Sabha constituencies — Jammu (J&K), Kaliabor (Assam), Kanakapura (Karnataka), Guna (Madhya Pradesh), Tripura West (Tripura), Mirzapur (Uttar Pradesh) and in six Assembly constituencies — Yamunanagar (Haryana), Arvi (Maharashtra), Saidapat, Vaniyambadi and Andipatti (Tamil Nadu) and Ajmer West (Rajasthan). Guna (MP) and Mirzapur (UP) Lok Sabha seats, fell vacant following the deaths of senior Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia and Samajwadi Party’s Phoolan Devi respectively.
After taking all relevant factors into consideration, the Commission has decided to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in all the Assembly constituencies in Punjab, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh, while in Manipur, the voting machines will be used for the first time and accordingly taking the special situation therein, six Assembly constituencies — Khurai, Yaiskul, Wangkhei, Thangmeiband, Sagolband and Keishamthong — have been selected for use of EVMs in the Assembly elections.
Despite demands from various political parties for doing away with the Photo Identity Cards, the Chief Election Commissioner, who was flanked by the two Election Commissioners T.S. Krishnamurthy and B.B. Tandon, announced that the Commission had decided that compulsory identification of voters will be a must.
“In order to ensure that no voter is deprived of his franchise, if his/her name figures in the electoral rolls, separate instructions are being issued to allow additional methods of identification of voters in each state,” Mr Lyngdoh said.
Asked whether elections would be re-scheduled if there was confrontation on the international border, Mr Lyngdoh initially said “as an Indian citizen who reads newspapers, I think there is going to be no war. But when the time comes, we will see.”
To a specific question as to whether the polls would be postponed in the event of a war with Pakistan, the CEC said. “Obviously, we cannot be insensitive to what is happening around us. Elections are not more important than the interests of the country. But we will see when the time comes.”
Election Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy said a “major departure” done by the Commission this time was bringing into the “public domain” the separate accounts maintained by political parties till the completion of elections. He warned of strict action against dereliction of duty by official machinery in the states going to polls if it failed to be absolutely impartial in its approach.
It may be recalled that the Commission had recently directed suspension of two election officials and transfer of three senior officials in Punjab for the dereliction of duties and large-scale irregularities in electoral roll revision.
The notifications for the assembly polls in Punjab, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Manipur will be issued on January 16, 2002. Last date for filing nominations will be on January 23, 2002. Scrutiny of nominations on January 24, 2002 and the last date for the withdrawal of candidatures will be January 28, 2002.
While counting of votes will be taken up simultaneously on February 24, 2002, the entire election process will be completed by February 28, 2002, the CEC said.
While hours of polls will be between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the case of Manipur and other North-Eastern States, it will be between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. in other States.
The CEC said repoll cases will be held with one day interval from poll day. Giving details on the issue of Photo Identity Cards, the CEC said while in Punjab 80 per cent of the electorate would be issued the cards before it went to polls, in the other three states it is likely to be in the range of 70 per cent. Mr Lyngdoh said for free and fair conduct of elections, 400 observers were being deputed by the Commission to oversee the process of elections.
While the term of Punjab Assembly ends on March 2, 2002, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly term ends on March 27, 2002. Uttaranchal, which was carved out from the State of Uttar Pradesh with effect from November 9, 2001 has a provisional Legislative Assembly.
The Assembly elections in Manipur was last held in February 2000. The State was brought under President’s rule on June 2, 2001 and the State Legislative Assembly was dissolved on September 7, 2001. The Ministry of Home Affairs had intimated to the Commission that the Assembly Elections may be held in the month of February, 2002.
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